This page features current news and views from Skye and elsewhere. It will also provide an opportunity for others working locally to report research and results.
With family living in Barcelona we are regular visitors to the city and to the huge diversity of habitats which make up Catalonia. These holidays are never exclusively about birding but we had never visited in May, and looked forward to catching up with some summer visitors and migrants. It proved a very hot spell but the birds did not disappoint. As ever I was a regular visitor to the Llogrebat delta, and we managed a day trip to Aguamolls, and several days in the Balaguer area. Predictable species included Bee Eater, Roller and Golden Oriole. Alpine Swifts screaming near our family's apartment was unpredictable, as was 12 Red-footed Falcons on the Balaguer dry lands, and Collared Pratincole at Llogrebat. It was good to see Black-eared Wheatear and the two species of Rock Thrush, as well as Woodchat Shrike and Rock Sparrow. Montague's Harrier was viewed in stunning evening light and the overall numbers and abundance of birds seemed to be in stark contrast to parts of Skye. However, the catalonian scenery is just as spectacular and we are fortunate to be able to enjoy this fantastic region on a regular basis. On this self-guided tour we managed to record 126 species.
Twite are a common breeding species in Skye and Lochalsh and the majority of birds migrate in winter. Recent ringing studies have shown that our birds move east to Angus and north-east Scotland, with the occasional bird in Orkney. When birds return in the spring there is a shortage of natural seed and many will forage in gardens. It is not unusual to see them below garden feeders or even on seed trays. However, it does seem unusual to see them actually using nyger feeders as shown in Stephen MacDonald's photograph at Morar. Similar behaviour has also been recorded at Mallaig this year. Is this the start of something new or has anyone else recorded it?
The annual bird report for Highland for the year 2016 has just been published by Highland Branch SOC. Many of the records contained in this website are included in the report. Sean Morris from Rum wrote the Lochaber summary in the report and ‘yours truly’ wrote the Skye and Lochalsh summary. Several colour images have been reproduced and include several from Bob and Martin Benson. I have a small number of copies available at £9, otherwise contact Highland Branch SOC at www.highlandbirds.scot.